Hurricane Florence storm downgraded but still "very dangerous"

Howard TerrySep 15, 2018

At 2 p.m. EDT, Florence, weakening as it moves inland at 5 mph, was 35 miles west-southwest of Wilmington and 35 miles east northeast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, packing sustained hurricane-force winds of 75 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

In the coming days, Florence's path and pace may cause it to send storm bands back over areas already hammered by heavy rain - what's known as training - dumping even more water and making conditions even more hazardous for both residents and rescuers.

The National Weather Service said flash flooding was expected to continue through the rest of Friday in New Bern and surrounding areas. "We are stuck in the attic". Highways and secondary road closures were reported throughout eastern North Carolina.

Power outages affecting more than 900,000 in Carolinas.

Hurricane-force winds extended 130km from its centre, and tropical storm-force winds reached out to 315km.

More than 360 people had been rescued by midafternoon Friday, but another 140 were still waiting for help, city spokeswoman Colleen Roberts told The Associated Press. Through the day, the storm's pace slowed even more, from 10 miles per hour Thursday morning to 3 miles per hour by Friday evening.

According to poweroutage.us, more than 500,000 customers in North Carolina and 50,000 in SC were without power on Friday morning, though the Weather Channel estimates up to 3 million customers could lose power in the Carolinas due to Florence.

In New Bern, North Carolina, the storm surge overwhelmed the town of 30,000, located at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent rivers.

The Cape Fear river crested at 8.27 feet about 3:30 p.m., setting a new record and by Wednesday, the Maccamaw River may climb to 17.1 feet, the National Weather Service's Wilmington office reported, just shy of its record.

Thousands of people hunkered down in schools, shelters and a coliseum in Winston-Salem. He added that there would be no mercy for those who try to steal from others' homes during the storm. Additional swiftwater rescue teams were on the way.

"We would recommend that people hold on to nonperishable items to be prepared for the next emergency, which could happen at any time of year", said James City County spokeswoman Renee Dallman. "If the number seems really insane high, you always have to have some suspicion until we can actually get out and verify it".

"The water kept rising and kept rising", he said.

"Into next week our rivers are going to continue to rise and there will be more significant flooding", Cooper said. Hurricane Florence will slow down as it approaches the coast and moves inland. Over 60 people had to be pulled out of a collapsing motel in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and hundreds were saved as water levels rose.

On Friday, coastal streets in the Carolinas flowed with frothy ocean water, and pieces of torn-apart buildings flew through the air.

"It can not be emphasized enough that the most serious hazard associated with slow-moving Florence is extremely heavy rainfall, which will cause disastrous flooding that will be spreading inland", forecasters said, reports CBS News.

It appeared that the north side of the eye was the most unsafe place to be as Florence moved ashore.

There is really nowhere for the water to go. Floyd, like Florence, hit Wilmington directly and dumped record amounts of rain.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, I'm probably a 7" in terms of worry, she said. "We don't have any right now", said Ken Graham, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami. CORRECTING TYPO IN CITY NAME Vechicles are seen as members of the U.S. Army rescue people during the passing of Hurricane Florence in the town of New Bern, North Carolina, U.S. September 14, 2018. He said it was a testament to the close calls around the city.

"Surviving this storm will be a test of endurance, teamwork, common sense and patience".

"Rivers are rising to risky levels, and the relentless rains will continue through the weekend", North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warned on Friday. Many state museums and other attractions are also closed.

He picked up 10 people on one run and took them to a shelter.

Prisoners were affected, too. At least four people have died, and authorities fear the toll will go higher as the tropical storm crawls westward Saturday across SC.

According to Duke Energy, the largest electrical provider in the Carolinas, between 1 and 3 million people in South and North Carolina may be left without power after Hurricane Florence.

Teia Cherry and her family thought they could ride out Florence, now a tropical storm, at home.

Kroger said it has shut down four stores in SC and suspended grocery pickup and/or delivery in six SC stores, eight Georgia stores and five Virginia stores.

A buoy off the North Carolina coast recorded waves almost 30 feet (9 meters) high as Florence churned toward shore.

NewsHour has also published maps of flooding predictions for the coast.

The Miami-based center says the center of the eye moved ashore with top sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph), making Florence a Category 1 hurricane in terms of wind intensity.

Forecasters said that given the storms size and sluggish track, it could cause epic damage akin to what the Houston area saw during Hurricane Harvey just over a year ago, with floodwaters swamping homes and businesses and washing over industrial waste sites and hog-manure ponds.

The White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump had spoken with state and local officials, assuring them the federal government was prepared to help.

"Well operate without power; we have candles".

"It doesn't matter where you are", he said.

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